Northwest Board of Regents passed a proposal allowing the University to move forward with its accelerated master’s program in recreation.

The accelerated master’s program admits students to take 15 credit hours in their senior year as dual credit. This means students can get credit for both undergraduate and graduate degrees simultaneously.

This allows students to complete their master’s in one less year. School of Health and Sciences Director Terry Long said this saves both time and money.

“They don’t necessarily have to know that from day one,” Long said. “They might be in our recreation program up through their sophomore year, develop an interest in a master’s program and once they’ve finished (60) hours in a program, they can declare they want to pursue a master’s degree their senior year.”

Another reason the program was added is to grant students a more affordable option.

“By allowing our students to have that opportunity to earn that master’s degree for a little less money in a shorter time frame, then they can enter the field and be eligible for that credential earlier,” Long said.

The credentials Long is talking about is the Certified Parks and Recreation Executive, which requires a master’s degree and the Certified Parks and Recreation Professional, which requires a bachelor's degree.

“CPRE is the preferred credential, CPRE is the entry-level credential,” Long said.

Long said the credentials are a big reason why the recreation master’s degree is offered.

“The credential is what’s more important. You’re starting to see the CPRP and the CPRE credential regular in job descriptions,” Long said.

The importance of the credential was also pointed out by Assistant Professor Tyler Tapps.

“With the growing market for having a master’s degree, we talk to our students about getting jobs, we want them to get a better job, get that better first job,” Tapps said.

Tapps was responsible for writing the proposal. The process started at the recreation faculty level, to the health sciences faculty with graduate status, through the Faculty Senate, to the Provost and onto the the Board of Regents.

Tapps said a big thing that is looked at when a new program is added, is the amount of work or how many new classes are added, which cost money. Tapps said this was not an issue.

“As a faculty member, when you’re looking at the program you need to ask yourself ‘Are you creating new classes?’ because those are workloads,” Tapps said. “Who’s going to pick up a new class, or if we added a new rotation, and this had very minimal if any (course changes).”

Tapps said he wrote the proposal with four key values in mind.

“In the nature of higher head we want to be innovative, we want to be more affordable, we want to make an economic impact, we want to serve our students as part of the mission at Northwest, ‘every student, every day,’” Tapps said. “We felt like we hit all four of those.”

Students can apply to the accelerated master’s program if they have completed 60 credit hours and are above a 3.0 GPA (or have a sufficient score on the GRE). Students will only receive dual credit if they are enrolled in the accelerated program.

The next and final step is for the Missouri Board of Higher Education to approve the program. If approved, students will be able to enroll in the program in fall semester of 2019.

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